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Agency aims to assist with weatherization

The fridge door doesn’t seal. The stove is leaking gas. Thatspace heater’s got to go.

For those who have leaking and rough-running appliances running24 hours a day and blowing up the monthly power bill, Mississippi’sSouth Central Community Action Agency can help. Designed to assistlow-income families with various needs, CAA just moved into its newBrookhaven office last week at 519 Brookway Blvd. and is now takingapplications for its Weatherization Assistance Program.

“Weatherizing means basically tightening up a home and checkingall the major appliances,” said Jesse Griffin, executive director.”The goal of this program is to cut down on your energy bill, tofind misuse or abnormality in appliances. For some, it’s a jugglebetween food, medicine and energy bills. We want to reduce thatenergy bill and leave more money for the food and medicine.”

Operating under the Mississippi Department of Human Services andacting on guidelines set by the federal Department of Energy, CAAis now taking applications to set up energy audits to help theelderly, disabled and families with young children repair orreplace faulty, electricity-loving appliances. The group takes aimat unsafe appliances like space heaters – replacing them withsingle vented stoves capable of heating the entire household – andleaves each home new, energy-efficient light bulbs, a year’s supplyof air filters and other items to improve comfort and airquality.

“We check appliances for energy efficiency. We plug therefrigerator up to a meter that tells us if the appliance isfunctioning properly,” Griffin said. “We can address whateverissues you may have in your home.”

Griffin said CAA has the capacity and funding to contract on 102homes in Lincoln County and spend up to $4,500 on each dwelling.Applications can be made by calling the Brookhaven office at601-833-4312 or 1-866-599-9929.

The program is not a shopping spree, Griffin warned.

“This is not a program for you to sit back and pick out what youwant,” he said.

Likewise, homes have to meet certain qualifications beforeweatherization can begin.

“You have to have a home that’s weatherizable. It has to bestructurally sound,” Griffin said. “No leaks, no mold, no clutterto where there’s only a path leading through the house. If thoseare the conditions of the home, we have to walk away. If there’sone hole in the wall or some sheet rock is missing from theceiling, we can replace that, but we can’t replace the wholeroof.”

District One Supervisor the Rev. Jerry Wilson invited Griffin tomake his presentation to county supervisors Tuesday. Wilson, aboard member of Natchez-based AJFC Community Action Agency, workedwith the first weatherization program in Lincoln County before itbecame inactive.

“It won’t pay for everything, but it will help people out insome ways,” he said. “Especially with our elderly. A lot of themare trying to stay warm with those old-timey heaters – a lot of thehomes you go into are not up to par. There’s some inadequacieswhere people just need help.”